Snowstorm Health Dangers

The obvious thing most folks think about when the local news stations are warning of impending winter storms would be that it will be dangerous for driving.  The nation has been undergoing some big winter storms and cold this winter that has made for bad roads and accidents, but there are also other health and safety dangers created by winter’s fury.  When the temperatures dip, people often forget frostbite can occur in a matter of minutes and have dire health consequences, including amputations.  A tingling and painful feeling on skin, especially the extremities of fingers and toes should immediately send people towards somewhere indoors to be safe.  Once a person has been out in the elements and experienced such symptoms indicating the possible start of frostbite, they are at increased risk when going back outside shortly thereafter.  Individuals can be at an even higher risk of frostbite, or hypothermia, when alcohol has been consumed, as the alcohol causes the body to feel warm and underestimate how cold it is and it also messes with the body’s temperature regulation and can lead to problems quickly.

Other factors that can mess with the body’s temperature regulation system and signals are aging and also prescription medications.  This can leave individuals susceptible to becoming victims of hypothermia even inside a home that is not heated properly.  Therefore, winter storms and weather can cause hypothermia to those stranded or staying outside too long, but also people indoors, especially those of advanced age.  It is very wise to keep track of elderly family members, neighbors, and friends in winter months to assure they are staying warm enough and their home temperature gauges are at safe settings.  Another risk for inside can be power outages that keep the heat off altogether for extended periods of time.  When the power is out or home heating systems are not keeping up with demand, people often resort to space heaters to help stay warm.  Use of space heaters ups fire risks from space heaters placed too close to flammable items and electrical fires from extension cords and overloaded electrical outlets.  It is imperative that space heaters be kept at least three feet from flammable items and that they not be left unattended.  Extension cords should be avoided and the space heater and its cord should be inspected to be sure it is up to safety standards. 

Winter storms bring the requirement of shoveling walks and driveways to meet city regulations and keep things safe for pedestrians and vehicles.  People who are otherwise sedentary are now outdoors performing some of the most strenuous activity there is.  Shoveling involves every muscle of the body, as well as the cardiac system, to lift heavy snow, bend over, and endure cold temperatures.  This can be a recipe for disasters and snow shoveling does too often lead to cardiac events that risk health and even life.  Individuals who are in poor physical condition, or are advanced in age with health risks, should avoid snow shoveling if at all possible.  It is unfortunate that many people, due to finances and a lack of people to reach out and help them, have to get out and shovel to their own detriment.  Every safety precaution should be taken in this instance to be sure the individual is as warmly dressed as possible in layers and that breaks are taken with short duration shoveling times.  Even better, is when neighbors, friends, and families pitch in and help those who are at risk when shoveling.    

It is extremely important to be ready for the winter season and its hazards out driving, on one’s property, and even inside.  If possible, have plans in place well before winter storms to help dictate driver safety, shoveling safety, and home safety.  If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, or other type of accident that was the fault of another, do not hesitate to contact Inserra & Kelley Law Offices for assistance.  Our caring professionals want you to be safe and want to keep you informed on when you may be entitled to compensation.